The “home base” debate
The dense concentrations of faunal remains and stone tools at some Plio-Pleistocene sites at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) and Koobi Fora (Kenya) have traditionally been interpreted as favored locations to which hominids repeatedly transported carcass parts for processing (Leakey, 1971; Isaac, 1978, 1983, 1984; Bunn, 1982, 1991; Potts, 1982, 1988; Bunn and Kroll, 1986; Schick, 1987; Blumenschine, 1988, 1991, 1995; Bunn and Ezzo, 1993; Schick and Toth, 1993; Oliver, 1994; Rose and Marshall, 1996; O’Connell, 1997). These co-occurrences, which typically contain bones from several individuals within a vertically discrete horizon (referred to by Isaac  as “Type C” sites), often preserve high densities of archaeological material in spatially restricted concentrations. For many researchers, these archaeological sites represent places where hominids may have stayed for extended periods, very likely performing activities beyond stone tool manufacture and carcass manipulation (Leakey, 1971; Isaac, 1978, 1984; Bunn, 1982; Stanley, 1992; Domínguez-Rodrigo, 1994a; Oliver, 1994). The seemingly frequent processing of nutrient-dense large mammal tissue by hominids between 2 and 1.5 Ma led many evolutionary anthropologists to suggest meat eating as the critical adaptation for understanding the emergence of stone tool use. These debates necessarily gravitated towards the evidence from Olduvai, and more specifically, from the single site of FLK Level 22 (the Zinjanthropus Floor). Despite its importance for reconstructing hominid behavior, an almost exclusive focus on the archaeological evidence from FLK Zinj has limited archaeologists’ views in two important ways. First, it forced researchers to neglect regional variability in hominid adaptive patterns (clearly stressed by Potts ). Second, it hindered the development of explanatory frameworks that could deal with a diversity of site formation scenarios. Although the debates over these “Type C” sites have clearly generated fruitful discussions over the past two decades, it is also evident that other types of archaeological occurrences representing stone tool–using activities, not necessarily linked to carcass manipulation, have yet to be fully appreciated.
KeywordsArchaeological Site Stone Tool Large Carnivore Site Formation Faunal Remains
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